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Inversions (US 2000 Hardcover)

Iain Banks

The world of Inversions is a planet with two suns, but otherwise it's a recognizable fantasyland of knights, princes, sieges, love, and treachery. Two travelers from distant lands reach two different kingdoms and become the close associates of two monarchs. As personal physician to King Quience, Doctor Vosill fights a two-front war: mistrust of her superior medical knowledge and prejudice against her as a woman. DeWar, meanwhile, is principal bodyguard to General UrLeyn, and struggles to safeguard his too-trusting charge in an all too dangerous world. Their stories play out in alternating chapters of the novel, and although their paths never cross, the lives of these two very different people may be deeply intertwined.

Depending on whom you believe, that is, because the tellers of these tales are less than trustworthy. Vosill's story comes from her lovesick assistant, recounted decades after the events took place. And DeWar's storyteller keeps his or her identity secret. Whatever truth there may be is further obscured by legends, histories, and myths--stories upon stories--that speak to the central accounts. Facts may be exaggerated by time and agenda, but the two narrators are so personally involved in the events they recount that the stories take on great intensity (helped of course by Banks, a confident and vivid writer). In Inversions, love is more passionate, fear is more palpable, blood is thicker, disease more wretched--and adventure more glorious. --J.B. Peck

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